Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Sexual Arousal

  • Kelly D. SuschinskyEmail author
  • Meredith L. ChiversEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3362-1



An emotional state triggered by internal (e.g., fantasy) and/or external (e.g., visual) sexual cues, consisting of interacting components including physiological (particularly genital) changes and subjective experience (Chivers 2005).


Sexual arousal is one of several components of the human sexual response cycle. It is characterized by changes in physiology and/or subjective experience, though these facets may not always coincide with each other (Chivers et al. 2010; Janssen 2011; see below). Physiological changes resulting from activation of the sympathetic nervous system include pupil dilation, increased heart rate, and increased respiration rate; these changes, however, are not unique to sexual arousal, therefore researchers focus physiological measurements of sexual arousal on genital changes associated with vasocongestion (Chivers et al. 2013). Subjective sexual arousalrefers to one’s emotional...


Sexual Arousal Sexual Stimulus Genital Response Subjective Sexual Arousal Vaginal Pulse Amplitude 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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  1. Chivers, M. L. (2005). A brief review and discussion of sex differences in the specificity of sexual arousal. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 20, 377–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  8. Suschinsky, K. D., Dawson, S. J., & Chivers, M. L. (2016). Sexual concordance across the spectrum: Assessing the relationship between sexual concordance, sexual attractions, and sexual identity in women. Archives of Sexual Behavior.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada